Newly crowned Junior Saloon Car Series Champion Katie Milner enjoyed a positive weekend competing with Elite Motorsport in the Ginetta Junior Winter Series. Milner faced challenging conditions as she acclimatised herself with the Ginetta G40 at Brands Hatch, making the switch from front-wheel drive machinery to rear-wheel drive. Katie’s performances were strong as she competed against many vastly experienced drivers and enjoyed a number of close battles with her fellow rookies.
Qualifying began on Saturday morning with wet track conditions facing the 17 drivers competing in the Ginetta Junior Winter Series. Katie took to the track and immediately set a competitive lap time before the session was interrupted by a couple of safety car periods to retrieve cars which had gone off circuit. With just a couple of minutes remaining under green flag conditions, Katie set the 12th fastest time and lined up for the opening race as the fourth highest rookie, a good effort when considering her relative lack of experience in the Ginetta G40.
Katie’s opening race for Elite Motorsport took place shortly after with track conditions still extremely tricky following persistent morning rain. A good start from Milner saw her hold 12th position after the opening lap as the safety car was deployed for Harry Dyson with Katie up inside the top-10 following lap two. As the racing resumed, Milner held 10th position but was under pressure from teammate Greg Johnson and fell to 15th as a second safety car was deployed for Finlay Green. Just a couple of laps remained in the opening race and Katie was determined to make up some positions and ended her opening Ginetta Junior race in 14th position.
Race two took place later in the afternoon with damp track conditions testing the skills of the young drivers. Katie made a good start and gained a position on the opening lap to move into 13th as the safety car was once again deployed early on. Following the restart, Milner improved to 12th and then into 11th on the following lap as the battle with her fellow rookie drivers continued. After losing a position to the recovering Charlie Digby on lap eight, Katie enjoyed a spell of close racing with Jenson Dineen and Keaton Samra for the final step on the rookie podium. As the red flag was brought out with one minute remaining, Milner was in 11th place and claimed the third highest rookie finish, a fantastic achievement for her first day in Ginetta Junior’s.
Sunday morning brought a new qualifying session for Katie and although the skies were clear, the track was still wet from Saturday’s rain which made conditions treacherous. Times were extremely close early in the session but a series of yellow flags for cars going off into the gravel prevented any improvement in times. Keaton Samra brought out a red flag with just over two minutes remaining but the session was restarted for a final sprint for pole. With just one flying lap available, Katie was unable to improve and qualified 15th for the third race of the weekend.
Katie was confident of moving forward in the first race of the day with the best track conditions the drivers had experienced all weekend. A very close first lap saw Milner drop to 16th but gained a position after teammate Harry King retired on lap two. As everyone set their fastest laps of the weekend so far, Katie was getting into her rhythm and enjoyed a great battle with Greg Johnson to be the highest placed Elite Motorsport driver. A small spin dropped Katie away from her teammate but with over half the race to go there was still time to make up a number of places. Milner made good improvements on her lap times in the closing stages and was lapping quicker than the drivers ahead but couldn’t improve on her position and ended the opening race of the day in 15th.
The final race of the Ginetta Junior Winter Series took place in near-dry conditions with Katie lining up in 15th courtesy of her finish earlier in the day. Milner made the best start of her weekend so far and gained two positions to end the first lap in 13th. Unfortunately, Katie’s good start was in vain as she was caught up in an incident Quinn and Del Sarte which forced her to retire. It was a disappointing end to the weekend but Milner should be pleased with her progress during her first outing in Ginetta Junior’s.
Katie has proved her talents by jumping into one of the most competitive series in the country and competing to a high standard with little testing opportunities. Her versatility in all conditions was outstanding as she improved her times consistently throughout the course of the weekend. Milner’s attention will now turn to 2017 where she will aim to secure the funding to move up the motorsport ladder.
You can keep up to date with Katie’s progress using the social media links below:
Website – www.katiemilner.com
Facebook – www.facebook.com/katiemilnerracing
Twitter – www.twitter.com/katiemilner_